California Medical Association: Legalize Marijuana

| by Michael Allen

One of the largest medical organizations in California has come out in favor of legalizing marijuana, marking it as the first major medical group in the United States to advocate for legalization.

The LA Times recently reported how the California Medical Association came to the decision after their frustration at current California laws regarding the ability of doctors to issue prescriptions for medical marijuana.

Dr. Donald Lyman, the Sacramento physician who wrote the group’s new policy, attributed the shift to growing frustration over California’s medical marijuana law, which permits cannabis use with a doctor’s recommendation. That, he said, has created an untenable situation for physicians: deciding whether to give patients a substance that is illegal under federal law.

“It’s an uncomfortable position for doctors,” he said. “It is an open question whether cannabis is useful or not. That question can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done. Then, and only then, can we know what it is useful for.”

The CMA’s new stance appears to have as much to do with politics as science. The group has rejected one of the main arguments of medical marijuana advocates, declaring that the substance has few proven health benefits and comparing it to a “folk remedy.”

The group acknowledges some health risk associated with marijuana use and proposes that it be regulated along the lines of alcohol and tobacco. But it says the consequences of criminalization outweigh the hazards.

However, the California Medical Association has been criticized by some in the medical community as well as a spokesperson for the California Police Chiefs Association, who asked of the board, “I wonder what they’re smoking?”